Visual Neuroscience

Visual Neuroscience (2006), 23:669-674 Cambridge University Press
Copyright © 2006 Cambridge University Press
doi:10.1017/S0952523806233340

TESTING AND METHODS

Psychophysical estimation of the best illumination for appreciation of Renaissance paintings


PAULO D.  PINTO  a1 , JOÃO M.M.  LINHARES  a1 , JOÃO A.  CARVALHAL  a1 and SÉRGIO M.C.  NASCIMENTO  a1 c1
a1 Department of Physics, Campus de Gualtar, University of Minho, Braga, Portugal

Article author query
pinto pd   [Google Scholar] 
linhares jmm   [Google Scholar] 
carvalhal ja   [Google Scholar] 
nascimento smc   [Google Scholar] 
 

Abstract

A variety of light sources are used in museum environments where the main concern is to prevent damaging effects of the light on paintings. Yet, the visual impression of an artistic painting is strongly influenced by the intensity and spectral profile of the illumination. The aim of this work was to determine psychophysically the spectral profile of the illumination preferred by observers when seeing paintings dated from the Renaissance époque and to investigate how their preferences correlate with the color temperature of the illumination and with the chromatic diversity of the paintings. Hyperspectral images of five oil paintings on wood were collected at the museum and the appearance of the paintings under five representative illuminants computed. Chromatic diversity was estimated by computing the representation of the paintings in the CIELAB color space and by counting the number of nonempty unit cubes occupied by the corresponding color volume. A paired-comparison experiment using precise cathode ray tube (CRT) reproductions of the paintings rendered with several illuminant pairs with different color temperatures was carried out to determine observers' preference. The illuminant with higher color temperature was always preferred except for one pair where no clear preference was expressed. The preferred illuminant produced the larger chromatic diversity, and for the condition where no specific illuminant was preferred the number of colors produced by the illuminant pair was very similar, a result suggesting that preference could have been influenced by chromatic diversity.

(Received February 8 2006)
(Accepted February 8 2006)


Key Words: Artworks illumination; Museum lighting; Chromatic diversity; Color of paintings; Color vision.

Correspondence:
c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Sérgio M. C. Nascimento, Department of Physics, Minho University, Campus de Gualtar, 4710-057 Braga, Portugal. E-mail: smcn@fisica.uminho.pt


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